|Numéro de publication||US20070087828 A1|
|Type de publication||Demande|
|Numéro de demande||US 11/163,329|
|Date de publication||19 avr. 2007|
|Date de dépôt||14 oct. 2005|
|Date de priorité||14 oct. 2005|
|Numéro de publication||11163329, 163329, US 2007/0087828 A1, US 2007/087828 A1, US 20070087828 A1, US 20070087828A1, US 2007087828 A1, US 2007087828A1, US-A1-20070087828, US-A1-2007087828, US2007/0087828A1, US2007/087828A1, US20070087828 A1, US20070087828A1, US2007087828 A1, US2007087828A1|
|Cessionnaire d'origine||Alexander Robertson|
|Exporter la citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Référencé par (11), Classifications (8)|
|Liens externes: USPTO, Cession USPTO, Espacenet|
The present invention relates to systems, processes and methods that use GPS and small computing devices to create utility or entertainment value.
The availability of small computing devices using increasingly accurate location receivers is boosting the popularity of location aware systems. In the context of this invention, a system becomes location aware obtaining coordinates from a location receiver. Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, Differential GPS (DGPS) receivers and some wireless networks provide these systems with location coordinates. Small computing devices include personal digital assistants (PDA), Pocket PC's, Smart Phones and some pagers.
A category of location aware systems help users find their way relying on GPS, maps and navigation software. For such navigation systems, a user enters an address and is guided to that destination. Being location aware, the system can show the user in the context of a map: current location, where to go and past movements.
Navigation systems are sometimes coupled with databases of known municipal sites, landmarks and places of commerce. Said databases allow users to find places of interest near their location. Conversely, places of interest are also used as destinations.
Navigation systems provide useful directions from point A to point B and illustrate known places of interest. However, using these systems, one cannot personalize the journey. That is, using these systems, one cannot personally annotate the map with location specific ad-hoc virtual effects that get triggered as one uses the map. In the context of this invention, location specific ad-hoc virtual effects are location specific because they are tied to an actual location and corresponding point on a map. The effects are ad hoc because they are created at the discretion of the annotator or author of the personalized map. The effects are virtual because they are real only in the context of the personalized map. Finally, they are effects because their existence triggers a desired result. For example, a personalized map author may want to create a specialized map giving directions to his house. The specialized map could include video display or audio narration effects that are triggered when passing by places of interest. The places of interest may be trivial to the general public but have meaning to specific audiences. For example, a grandfather, giving his grandchildren directions to his house, might want to point out his first girlfriend's house or the tree that he hit while learning how to drive. The effects for these personal places of interest could include a picture of the girlfriend or wrecked car and an audio narration of the place and picture's significance.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,364,093 to Huston and U.S. Pat. No. 6,525,690 to Rudow introduce location aware systems used to enhance a game of golf. Like navigation systems, these systems show users in the context of a map, in this case a golf course. A unique and helpful aspect of these golf systems is the definition of zones and their use driving the player's display. Zones are geographic areas defined by bounds. The areas surrounding a golf tee or areas surrounding a putting green are zones. To define a zone, one needs to know the horizontal borders (latitude) and the vertical borders (longitude). Once entering a zone, the application triggers helpful hints within the context of the player's location. For example, entering a tee zone triggers the system to display a picture of the hole, distance to hazards and strategies for playing.
Like the navigation systems, the golf systems do not allow individuals to create personalized location aware experiences. For example, a Friday afternoon golfing league might want to annotate a golf course with entertaining challenges that change each week. A possible challenge for a certain outing could have the golfers watch a video of a famous golfer getting out of a treacherous sand trap. The challenge would be to imitate the shot and try to better the famous golfer's result. This virtual effect, the video and instructions, would be triggered as the golfers entered a zone marking the bounds around the trap area. That is, the challenge would be triggered as they approached the trap.
US Patent Application 20050049022 to Mullen introduces the creation of location aware games given a location. This application is limited in that the game makes no consideration for parks or streets within the game area. The PACS in PACMAN referenced in the application should follow a street or path within a park. This can only be done if the game creator is allowed to personally annotate the Gameboard.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,691,032 to Irish introduces a process and method for creating and executing user-definable events triggered through location data describing zones of influence. Using the invention, one could create an annotated golf course and annotated maps as previously described. However, Irish's invention does not allow for the easy creation of these games.
Irish's invention requires a game creation sub process before the game loop is executed. The creation sub process is named “Define Global Cartridge Settings” and includes the following steps and sub steps allowing for the detailed specification of game personalization:
Within these steps, users define attributes, conditions and events allowing flexibility in Irish's invention. This flexibility also adds to the complexity involved in creating a personalized experience. Within the patent, Irish's example application is written in a third generation programming language to allow the user to express the conditional logic and events required to create the experience. Within the “Define Global Cartridge Settings” process, this source code is compiled into a cartridge before it can be executed. It is the principle object of this invention to disclose a computer system that hides this complexity making it easier to create and play personalized location aware experiences.
Another approach to the same problem addressed in Irish's invention is to split game creation and playing into three sub processes.
The second sub process, Author Gameboard (1 b), uses the resulting Toolset and a map to create and annotate a location specific instance of the game. Within the context of this invention, the output of the second process is called a Gameboard. To author a Gameboard the Toolset's pre defined Virtual Effects are selected and placed on the Gameboard. If needed, the Virtual Effect's attributes are changed. The Author Gameboard step is unique and easier than Irish's game creation process. Within this invention, for this sub process, user-definable events and conditional logic are not defined.
Because of its simplicity, the Toolset can be used en mass: Gameboards are easily authored and interpreted. That is, once one golf course Toolset is created, an unlimited number of golf courses could be personalized with the Toolset's pre defined Virtual Effects. Toolsets can also be created capturing the logic of a game, training aid, tour or scavenger hunt.
The present invention allows for the annotation and interpretation of Virtual Effects on a map. Applied in the intent of the invention's primary embodiment, the invention facilitates a simple creation of custom location aware games, training aids, tours and scavenger hunts using a mobile computing device and map. The interpretation process allows the same to be played or experienced using a mobile computing device and location receiver (e.g. GPS receiver).
This invention allows for the implementation of a new type of game: one where players experience a virtual reality interacting with Virtual Effects within their own neighborhoods. Compared to traditional computer games, these games will promote imagination and active rather than sedentary entertainment ultimately promoting more healthy lifestyles.
Definition List 1 Term Definition Gameboard A virtual playfield corresponding to an actual playfield. The Gameboard has a map and geographical boundaries corresponding to the actual playfield. The Gameboard also contains one or more Virtual Effects. Gameboard Part of a Toolset allowing a user to author and edit a game Editor consisting of a Gameboard and associated Virtual Effects. Gameboard Part of a Toolset allowing a user to play a user defined Interpreter game consisting of a previously defined Gameboard and Virtual Effects. Instantiation Programming term for allocating memory on computing device for object used within computing system or method. Sidewalk A child's game and example application of this invention. Squirrel © Toolset A computer system containing a Gameboard Editor and Gameboard Interpreter. Toolset A software developer creating an application of this Creator invention. Toolset User An individual who either authors or interprets a Gameboard. Virtual An effect having appearance, size, audio and interaction Effect rules that is virtual because it is real only in the context of a Gameboard.
This invention defines a computer system for annotating and interpreting predefined, location specific Virtual Effects onto a map. The annotation process allows for the simple creation and editing of custom location aware games, training aids, tours and scavenger hunts using a mobile computing device and map. The interpretation process allows same to be played or experienced using a mobile computing device and location receiver (e.g. GPS receiver).
To aid the reader of this patent application, nouns representing new concepts within this invention are capitalized. For example, Gameboard Editor, Gameboard and Virtual Effect are capitalized. A map image is used within this invention but it is not a new concept and not capitalized.
The process and method defined in this invention allows for many different Toolsets or types of games. An example Toolset, Sidewalk Squirrel© from Sneaker Entertainment©, is used throughout this patent application to demonstrate the invention. To play Sidewalk Squirrel©, the Gameboard Author annotates a Gameboard with predefined Virtual Effects representing acorns, bones, dogs and other items. The Gameboard Player using a GPS device is represented within the game as a squirrel. Playing Sidewalk Squirrel©, the Gameboard Player (the squirrel) collects the Gameboard's acorns and bones for points while avoiding or eliminating attacking dogs.
The detailed description section of this patent documents this invention from three perspectives: Toolset, Author Gameboard and Interpret Gameboard. The Toolset section defines the constructs used within the invention while the Author and Interpret Gameboard sections introduce the processes that use the constructs. Other Embodiments is presented as the final section.
Different hardware platforms require different implementations to drive respective hardware components. In the art, to keep a separation between platform independent components and platform specific components, functionality is sometimes split into two classes. Within
In detail, a Gameboard (2.1 m) consists of (2.1 n) an address, a game area center location represented as longitude and latitude, north-east and south-west bounding coordinates represented as longitude and latitude, a game area size represented as a length and width, a default scale representing a ratio of real world measurements to that of a map image, a collection of Virtual Effects (2.1 s) and a collection of Gameboard Maps (2.1 p) each with a map image and scale (2.1 q).
In detail, a Virtual Effect (2.1 s) consists of a list of images, a list of audio files a size represented as a length and width, a location (2.1 t) and four methods defining the Virtual Effect's behavior: movement, interaction, appearance and audio (2.1 u). To create different effects for different games, the four methods are overridden within Virtual Effect subtypes (2.2 d, 2.2 g, 2.2 j). For example, the audio trait of the dog (2.2 g) Virtual Effect is repetitive barking. The prize Virtual Effect (2.2 d) is silent until it is acquired where it “dings”. Since both the prize and dog are sub classes of Virtual Effect, they are treated exactly the same by the Author Gameboard and Interpret Gameboard processes. In the art, this technique is called polymorphism. Polymorphism allows the Author Gameboard and Interpret Gameboard processes to work regardless of the detailed behavior traits of the Virtual Effects which in turn allows the creation of many Toolsets or game types under this invention's process and method. It is the responsibility of the Game Creator to ensure that all Virtual Effect subclasses (2.2 a) implement all necessary methods so that the game can be edited and interpreted.
Within Sidewalk Squirrel©, the dog Virtual Effect attacks the Player (the squirrel). To characterize the dog's movement, the Virtual Effect images capture different positions of a running dog. Within the movement method, the dog's speed attribute (2.2 f) is used to calculate the Virtual Effect's next location. Over time, using speed and a rotating image, the dog's movement behavior is represented.
Similar to the dog's movement method, the audio method uses the list of audio files to represent an excited, barking dog. To make the barking realistic, the audio files are rotated at random. The effect is sporadic barking of different volumes and pitches similar to that of an attacking dog.
Virtual Effects also have a size and location used for intersection detection (2.1 t). Within the Sidewalk Squirrel©, size is represented as a length and width of pixels corresponding to the size of the Virtual Effect's image. Virtual Effect location is represented in longitude and latitude. Described in prior art terms, each Virtual Effect represents location independent zones that have self contained conditional logic that trigger effects. Virtual Effects stay location independent until used in the Author Gameboard process where they are assigned actual locations.
Within Sidewalk Squirrel©, the Virtual Effect types and behavior traits are as follows:
Gameboard (2.1 m), Gameboard Map (2.1 p) and Virtual Effect (2.1 s) each have methods for saving XML and reading from XML (2.1 o, 2.1 r, 2.1 u) allowing the Gameboard to be persisted, edited and interpreted when desired. XML is an acronym for extensible markup language and is frequently used in the art for persistence and process interaction.
Following the same polymorphic technique as the behavior trait methods, Virtual Effect subtypes override their parent's persistence methods (2.2 d, 2.2 g, 2.2 j) writing and reading different XML sections for each subtype (3 g through 3 j). This allows the dog XML segment (3 i) to have a speed attribute corresponding to the speed attribute in the dog Virtual Effect subtype (2.2 f).
As Virtual Effects define the Toolset's personality through their behavior methods, the Gameboard Control manages the Toolset's game level traits through specialized displays. Sidewalk Squirrel© is a simple game where points are won and lives are lost. To implement this behavior, the Gameboard Control manages a score board that displays score and remaining lives. Other embodiments may require different game level displays. For example, a scavenger hunt Toolset may require a display of elapsed time or time remaining in game.
During Gameboard Interpretation three additional constructs are used: a Game (2.1 v), a timer and a location receiver. During interpretation, the timer is used to set the cadence of the game. The timer is also the mechanism used to start, stop and pause the game. During interpretation, the location receiver provides coordinates to the Toolset allowing the game to become location aware. The Game (2.1 v) manages references to the timer and location receiver (2.1 w). As such, the Game construct is optional. That is, the references can me managed within the Gameboard or Gameboard Interpreter.
Similar to the Game, the Player Virtual Effect (2.2 h) is only instantiated during Gameboard Interpretation. Within Sidewalk Squirrel©, the Player holds score and lives attributes (2.2 i). Similar to other Virtual Effects, the Player has methods that define behavior traits (2.2 j). However, since the Game and Player Virtual Effect are not part of the Gameboard itself, these objects are not required to be persisted or represented as XML. Other embodiments of the Toolset will change this implementation. For example, a multiple player Toolset requires an XML representation to communicate Game and Player attributes between Players.
For any implementation, this invention requires but does not include a process for handling events, interfacing with device drivers or managing time. Sidewalk Squirrel© uses Microsoft's© Compact Framework© to handle these tasks. The Acquire External Map and location receiver also require external processes which will be introduced in a later Detailed Description section.
In all embodiments of the game, the Gameboard map represents where the game is to be played. For example, if a Gameboard Author wanted to play Sidewalk Squirrel© within his or her locale, the Gameboard Map would encompass the neighborhood. The annotation process as well as the individually specified map makes each game experience unique and customizable.
The example game, Sidewalk Squirrel© uses Microsoft's© MapPoint© to provide Gameboard Maps within the Acquire External Map method (7 b). MapPoint© is available as a web service over the Internet. Besides map images, MapPoint© provides the northeast and southwest bounding coordinates. The coordinates are represented in latitude and longitude.
The intent of this patent's process and method is to author and interpret a location aware game. The game itself will be played or experienced through moving around outdoors in the game area represented within the Gameboard. Because internet access is not always available outdoors, the map service is not called during the Interpret Gameboard step. Maps are acquired upfront during the Author Gameboard step and managed within the Gameboard Map construct. Many Gameboard Maps can be associated to the Gameboard itself. To represent large game areas, the map service may be called multiple times using different scales (9 g) (9 h).
To make it easy to scroll and zoom when larger scales are represented, multiple maps are acquired and managed within the Gameboard having varying sizes and scale. For example, within
To present realistic Virtual Effect images, as the Gameboard is zoomed using different map images, different Virtual Effect images are used corresponding to the map scale. These images are sized during the Size Images for Map Scales step (8 f) of the Initialize Gameboard process (
By restricting the Gameboard Author to simply designating the location and attribute values of the Virtual Effect, the Author Gameboard process is greatly simplified. Conversely, the Gameboard Author is restricted to the creativity of the Toolset Creator for types and behavior of Virtual Effects.
This invention uses but does not address GPS. The example game, Sidewalk Squirrel© utilizes StormSource Software's© GPS.NET© application to provide connectivity to GPS receivers. During a game, GPS.NET© coordinates and levels of confidence are read into the Game itself. In turn, the Game passes these coordinates to the Player Virtual Effect.
During Sidewalk Squirrel©, the Play Game processes Virtual Effects uniformly. However, since the Virtual Effects implement their behavior traits differently, the game has a unique personality. For example, the dog Virtual Effect barks while attacking the Gameboard Player Virtual Effect. While attacking, the dog's image changes over time to give it a running appearance. If the dog enters the Player's zone, the interaction removes one of the three lives granted to the Player. Loss of all three lives evokes a game over condition and the timer stops. Unlike the dog Virtual Effect, acorns and bones are prizes. If the Player enters a prize Virtual Effect zone, the prize disappears (is acquired) and points are awarded. Another Virtual Effect, the finish line, is also immobile. Entering the finish line's zone allows the Player to end game a winner with remaining lives and points.
The primary embodiment of this process and method can be implemented as a single player game.
Another embodiment of this invention allows communication between multiple players. This embodiment is illustrated in
This invention's process and method as defined use a square zone represented by horizontal and vertical bounds. Another embodiment could use any shape. For example, a zone could be represented as the area within a set of points or the area could be defined by an equation: x**2+2y**2.
Size used in this invention's example implementation (Sidewalk Squirrel©) is represented as pixels. In other embodiments, size could be represented in any unit of measure: feet, inches or meters. It is required though that size correlates to the actual size of the Virtual Effect image to give the Gameboard Player a realistic experience when interacting with the Virtual Effects within a game.
Visual display may not be required by some applications. For example, tours might completely rely on audio Virtual Effects.
Wizards may aid in the creation of Virtual Effects on a Gameboard. For example, following input from a Game Author, a Wizard could be instructed to place Virtual Effects on all street corners. Likewise, a Wizard could be used to generate dog Virtual Effects in Sidewalk Squirrel© during Gameboard annotation or interpretation.
An unlimited variety of Toolsets (Games and Virtual Effects) could be created as other embodiments of this invention. The complexity of trigger conditions and effects is left to the imagination of the Toolset Creator. To follow this invention's process and method, the Virtual Effect must implement methods capturing: movement, interaction, appearance and audio. Defining these traits and corresponding methods allows the Gameboard Editor and Gameboard Interpreter to process Virtual Effects generically. That is, a newly created Virtual Effect can be processed in the same manor as the defined dog or bone from Sidewalk Squirrel©. Following are a few other example Toolsets and their respective Virtual Effects:
Whether in its primary or alternative embodiments, this invention allows for the implementation of new location aware game types for small computing devices using location receivers. The Toolsets created using this process and method will promote active rather than sedentary entertainment ultimately promoting more healthy lifestyles.
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|Classification aux États-Unis||463/42, 463/7|
|Classification coopérative||A63F13/12, A63F2300/406, A63F2300/6018, A63F2300/5573|